The Facts About PMS

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a catch-all name for a variety of symptoms many women experience a few days before or during their period. Moodiness, depression, bloating, skin break-outs, soreness or feelings of heaviness in your breasts are all symptoms of PMS.

Unfortunately, nothing has been proved to “cure” PMS. However, a few things can alleviate some or all symptoms. Below are a few suggestions. Consider keeping a journal of remedies you’ve tried, to determine which ones work well for you and which ones don’t.

  • Pay attention
    Being aware of your body will help you predict how PMS will affect you each month and help you manage your symptoms. If you know you’re emotional a few days before your period, make a mental note to stay relaxed and not take something like an argument too seriously. If you know you have bad cramps on the first day of your cycle, try to keep your activities light that day. A slight change in your diet or sleeping habits might be what you need to make it through this time of the month a little easier.
  • Eat right
    Good nutrition is essential to controlling PMS. It affects your energy level and the severity of your symptoms. Watch your salt intake before your period. Salt causes water retention, which can make you feel bloated and heavy. Some women find that avoiding caffeine and alcohol helps prevent cramps and headaches. In addition, herbal teas can be helpful in cramp prevention, raspberry-leaf tea in particular. Some health food stores even carry special “PMS tea.” Finally, be sure to get enough calcium. Drink milk and eat low-fat frozen yogurt; there’s evidence they reduce cramps.
  • Relax
    When you have bad cramps, lie down with a heating pad. Read a good book, watch TV, snuggle with a pet. Breathing deeply and relaxing are terrific pain-relievers. And try to keep your stress level at a minimum.
  • Take vitamins
    If you’re not getting enough nutrition through food alone, ask your doctor about taking a vitamin or mineral supplement containing iron, vitamin C and vitamin B. During your period, you lose some of these nutrients, and replenishing them may relieve some of your PMS symptoms.
  • Try massage
    To relieve cramps, gently massage and rub your stomach. To relieve back pain, ask someone for a gentle backrub, concentrating on your lower back.
  • Other suggestions
    Over-the-counter pain relief, like aspirin and ibuprofen, can relieve cramps. Stretching during cramps and getting more vigorous exercise throughout the month help both cramps and bloating. Sleep is also important; staying refreshed makes symptoms seem less of a problem. If your PMS, cramps and bleeding are severe, ask your doctor about other options.

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